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27 Confessions of People Living With a Mental Illness

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Mental illness is rarely ever “pretty.” That’s why we might have a hard time confessing certain symptoms we’re struggling with to our support system — and especially to those who have never struggled themselves.

But by sharing these “secrets” we often keep buried deep down inside ourselves, we can continue to break down the stigma that causes us to feel shame, fear or embarrassment. That’s why we asked our Mighty mental health community what things they have trouble sharing with other people about their experience with mental illness.

Here is what they had to say:

1. “’The talk’ about how I can think about death and dying 24/7 without being suicidal… People don’t understand the difference between the two and get worried for no reason.” — Stine S.

2. “How hard every single moment can be, especially on bad days. It’s absolutely exhausting to get out of bed; take a shower; put on clothes; drive to work; work for eight hours dealing with patients who are sometimes rude, impatient and condescending; drive home while I talk to my mom (who does not always understand my mental illness) on the phone about my day; make dinner; do household chores; be a wife and a friend.” — Samantha S.

3. “Hospitalization. There is such a stigma surrounding hospitalization in a mental health facility. People think less of me or are even scared of me when they find out I was in a ‘mental hospital.’ I almost never tell people about it, even though I know needing help is nothing to be ashamed of.” — Marissa E.

4. “The serious lack of motivation. It’s so much more than that, but I don’t have the words to explain it. They always just end up thinking I’m lazy.” — Lisa C.

5. “My idea of a ‘good day’ is probably not very ‘good’ to them. How can you explain to people that getting out of bed and showering, doing laundry or just answering the phone are part of a having a ‘good day.’ If I am able to perform basic human functions, that is a good day for me.” — Jill A.

6. “My sadness — out of fear that others will judge me because of how minimal these problems seem to be.  Little do they know, these ‘small’ problems are much bigger for someone like me.  I’m constantly told: ‘to not beat myself up,’ ‘that’s nothing to cry over” or  ‘you’ll get over it later.’ Sharing is hard when certain people can’t understand what it’s like to be in your shoes.” — Jada T.

7. “The unexplainable pain you feel all day. The tears that fall from your eyes without reason. It;s so hard for me to explain to people as they will never understand. They feel it’s in my head and I need to snap out of it.” — Yakubu J.

8. “I find myself requiring some sort of drug to calm me down when I have bouts of depression or anxiety attacks. When it happens, I am deep in a hole of panic and fear and there is no escape. I pray to feel tired and fall asleep, even though I know it won’t be an easy task. Escape is impossible. The side effects lead me to gag, dry heave, cough violently or even vomit. I fear any human interaction when it happens because they wish to ask if they can help or if something is wrong. Yes and no — there’s something wrong — but it’s all the time. I don’t know of any thing you can do to help.” — Erik M.

9. “It is part of my daily life and I’m fully aware I will never be free of it. I don’t like to share this because I’m afraid people can’t handle it, or me. And I can’t blame them. Choosing to live your life with a partner who has a mental illness is not for everyone.” — Whitney F.

10. “Sometimes I need people to just pay attention to what kind of emotional responses they need to give me when I am in a meltdown or freaking out. Instead of me having to tell them how they need to approach me in that situation, sometimes I wish they would just think to themselves: OK, she’s anxious right now, hold her hand and tell her she’s safe and everything will be OK. Or say something like: she’s having a mood swing right now and having trouble calming down, speak calmly to her, tell her to go have quiet time before talking more. I really have trouble communicating how bad I feel at times and what I need from people in those moments.” — Sarah C.

11. “Having everything doesn’t equate to happiness. People tell you to smile and remind you of all the people that ‘have it worse than you,’ and expect you to feel grateful for the daily continuous struggle that accompanies depression and anxiety. [I think] most of us are doing the best we can and do not need to be preached to.” — Jennifer H.

12. “Mental health seems to be black and white to people who don’t struggle with mental illness. If you mention that you struggle with mental health issues to someone who doesn’t struggle, it seems to be automatically assumed that you are a danger — to yourself or others. You are either ‘perfectly sane,’ or should be admitted to a ward. There isn’t a grey to for most people. If you’re not unstable enough to be in a ward, you are expected to be as functional as someone who isn’t struggling with mental illness.” — Kelsey T.

13. “I tend to minimize my depression and anxiety. I don’t think people really get how bad it gets, but that’s because I want to appear strong (not fragile, as some people think I am). I am not immune to shame and stigma. People have preconceived notions of what a depressed person should look and act like. Most are surprised to learn of my illnesses. And don’t even get me started on my diagnosis of borderline personality disorder!” — Laura R.

14. “How hard it is. How exhausting. How fatiguing. I mean, [I’m] literally struggling against it every day, all day. And the fact that I know I should be able to do certain things, I know I shouldn’t feel certain ways, yet I cant help it because that’s what the illness is.” — Mark S.

15. “A lot of people don’t realize you might hear voices with major depression. It’s called depression with psychotic tendencies. It’s not my inner self that is talking to me either. There’s three different voices and one of them wants me dead. I can’t tell people this or talk about it because it freaks people out and some people that I do tell assume I’m some dangerous person and run the other direction.” — Jennifer L.

16. “That getting out of bed every morning is hard. That me being ‘lazy’ isn’t really me being lazy at all. I don’t wish to be that way, but depression has funny ways of pressing me down. And I don’t cancel plans because I want too, my depression has taken hold.” — Kayla R.

17. “The feelings of failure that come with living with mental illness. How frustrating it can be to not have handled a situation the way you wanted to be able to. Or when your illness causes you to react in a way that causes more problems. And you feel responsible because ultimately, most people expect you to be able to keep your illness in check. When you can’t, it feels like you’re letting yourself and everybody around you down. Instead of being offered empathy, people with mental illness are often written off as a disappointment.” — Clara B.

18. “Why I have very recent self-harm scars and my history with self-harm. People see it as a ‘teenage girl thing,’ and as someone in her late 20s, it’s hard to explain to people why I still cut myself — especially since on a good day, I know that it’s not an effective coping mechanism. But on a bad day, it’s the only thing that numbs the pain. And that’s a really tough thing to explain to people because most people don’t understand or are really judgmental about it.” — Christina F.

19. “That my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) comes and goes. I’ll go months and be perfectly fine, great even. And then one thing will happen, it doesn’t even have to be a big thing, and my whole world comes crashing down. I don’t have to be ‘sick’ 24/7 for my illness to be real and affect my life in drastic ways.” — Michalla D.

20. “How little control I have and how unaware I am when my alters switch. It’s really hard for people to understand that I’m just not ‘there’ once the switching happens. Even if I am co-conscious and somewhat aware of what’s going on, I have no control at that point and I don’t know when (or if) I will have control again. That seems to be really hard for people to understand and accept.” — Jessa L.

21. “The reason why I cancel plans at the last minute or when I disappear from our social circle from time to time. The few times I’ve spoken about it, people don’t get how being with people who love me is going to affect me. They don’t understand it’s nothing personal but a ‘me’ problem.” — Daria C.

22. “The absolute inability to function at times. That walking 10 feet to the bathroom can feel like running a marathon. That everything has turned to lead: your bones, your blood, your soul.” — Luci W,

23. “Just how hard it is to survive some days. The constant battle in my mind of wanting the pain to end, yet fighting to just stay alive. I want others to understand that even self-harm is a way for me to stay here.” — Rhonda M.

24. “Hallucinations. Not being able to distinguish real from not. I don’t usually talk about it because people may misunderstand.” — Rosebelle L.

25. “Simply the fact that I hide so much. I have so much inside of me that never comes out for several reasons. Either I can’t find words to accurately express the feeling or, more commonly, I don’t want to be more of a bother to people than I already feel. I feel like I need constant validation and that my problems are so redundant, but I keep them to myself a lot more than people around me realize because I know I’m already annoying enough.” — Shannon S.

26. “How depression and anxiety can cause paranoia and that’s why I’m so nervous and concerned about if I matter to anyone” — Gwenevere S.

27. “When you are living with mental illness you can still be a normal functioning adult but be fighting a constant battle inside yourself. When every single step you take feels like you’re wearing concrete boots because your mind is putting up so many mental roadblocks. Day-to-day activities are done, kids are taken care of and off to school, but your mind is still telling you every little possible thing that could go wrong — negativity, frustration and fear all rule inside my inner thoughts. Feeling like you’re not good enough, yet you know you are. Feeling like you’re not doing enough, yet you’re doing too much. It’s a constant battle inside of yourself. I just wish more people had an understanding about what mental illness is and that it has many faces.” — Jill L.

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 or text “HOME” to 741-741. Head here for a list of crisis centers around the world.

Thinkstock photo via francescoch

Originally published: September 15, 2017
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